Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Like Pulling Teeth

Sigh. I swear photos are going to be the bane of my existence. No, not MY photos, though with all the ones I take, you certainly might think so.

(aside: I finished sorting through photos and posted the ones from Moscow to Flickr today).

No, I'm talking about publicity photos. I was up at 5 a.m. this morning finishing an article for this guy who has a film opening next week at the Sacramento Film Festival. We had a lovely interview on Friday (the one I sat in the heat of the day to conduct) and I think the story didn't turn out too badly.

When I left him, I realized I had forgotten to ask him to submit a photo to Derrick. I wrote to him immediately and he said he would.

On Friday.

It is now Monday and I'm feeling all virtuous because I got the article to Derrick before he arrived at the office this morning and now I discover that the guy never sent in a photo.

(Later update: Within minutes of my leaving a voice mail message for him, he did send some excellent photos to Derrick, apparently)

Oh, I'm not surprised. 9 times out of 10, when it is up to the person who wants the publicity to provide the photo, we have problems.

Now tell me honestly. If you are an unknown and you're doing this thing that you think is pretty cool and you want to tell the world about it so they'll come and see your play or movie or dance recital or whatever it is, wouldn't you think you'd expend just a little effort to make sure that there is a photo that conforms to the needs of the newspaper? Or would you just ignore requests for photos and assume that we will just magically find something to sell your event for you?

There are a few theatre companies in the area which are excellent about complying. They submit photos in plenty of time. The photos are high resolution (give me a snapshot and I'll give you an unusable postage stamp size photo!), have interesting action in them, and are in color. I love companies like that (yes, I mean you, Davis Musical Theatre Company. High marks!)

There are other companies which make excellent photos available for download on the internet (California Musical Theater) or give me a DVD with photos on them (Sacramento Theater Company).

ok. The kudos stop here and I won't name names any more, because everybody else gets anywhere from a grade of C to an outright F

Everybody else either is always or can be sometimes a problem. Some need reminders, but are pretty good at following through once a call has been made. Some need more than one call. Some can't really tell you who you should call and you have to go through several people before finding someone who knows something about photos. You are just supposed to know that stuff intuitively.

Some give you static poses, with two actors standing there like "American Gothic" staring blankly at the camera...and what fun is that? You have to call them back and explain that you want something that shows their show, not just head shots of the actors. One group shuffles through a stack of blurry snapshots, and hands me one to ask if this will do (in a word: no!)

Some just have nothing. You're a THEATER company, for God's sake. You're supposed to be the epitome of vanity. Why would you have NO PHOTOS of the show you want people to come to?

Now, I realize that what the theatre company is focusing on is the rehearsal, the costumes, the technical aspects of the show, and publicity may be the furthest thing from their minds.

But think about it, people. How does somebody find out about your production? What goes in the newspaper.

And think about your own newspaper reading. You're skimming the paper and you see a headline that says something like "young filmmaker to participate in film festival." There is no photo. Unless you are into young film makers, or the kind of person who reads everything in the newspaper (like my mother), is this headline likely to make you want to read all those wonderful words I have worked so hard at crafting?

BUT if there is a picture of a cute kid, or a funny situation, aren't you likely to at least stop for a moment and look at the photo and maybe at least start reading the article? And, if all goes well, won't that make you intrigued enough to perhaps attend an event that you may not have known about before?

So why is it so much like pulling teeth with so many people who are begging for publicity to actually get cooperation in the form of a photo for the article they want us to put in the newspaper for them?


1 comment:

harrietv said...

Sometimes you wonder who's choosing pictures. On Monday there was an item about "Inception," with a single picture of the actress as she appeared in "Juno." I did not read the article, 'cause I really don't care how much money the movies make. Big deal -- I remember when you could see a first-run movie for thirty cents.